Planning her career as a speech-language pathologist, Ãmilie Lefebvre wanted to work with bilingual adults, but a happy flurry of La Semaine de la Francophonie celebrations made her change her mind.
The festivities at an Edmonton school board drew on her own Francophone roots as she worked there as a clinical internship to complete her studies at the University of Alberta, and spurred a desire to working in the same kind of tight-knit school system where she grew up. in.
âThe week was dedicated to celebrating Francophone culture, people who speak French from various backgrounds from all over the world. We are all very different, but the language brings us together and it made me realize how important it was for me to return to work with the children in this community.
Lefebvre now practices in some of the same French schools she attended as a child in Calgary, working alongside her former teachers and principals.
âI feel like I’m going back to my family and coming home, making an impact on the community I grew up in. “
Full circle honors her French-speaking roots, her desire to help people and her science education as she obtained a Master of Science in Speech-Language Pathology from the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine at the University of Alberta.
âI have found that pursuing a career in speech language pathology has really brought many aspects of my life together; that filled a lot of the gaps.
Lefebvre works in 15 schools in a francophone school district in southern Alberta, offering early intervention to help young francophones overcome their speech problems.
âWe see children who have more difficulty expressing their wants and needs and communicating with others, so it’s really rewarding to see a child being heard and understood and being able to express what he wantsâ¦ see that relief on her face.
âIt’s so rewarding to be able to give them the tools to access their voice.
The certificate in French-speaking practice for speech therapists that she obtained during her master’s studies helps Lefebvre in her specialized work.
Offered jointly by the Faculty of Rehabilitation Medicine and Campus Saint-Jean, the program allowed Ms. Lefebvre to familiarize herself with assessment and intervention material for Francophones, thus enriching her ability to help her young clients, she says.
âThe program emphasizes the development and linguistic standards of Francophones, and I feel more comfortable in my practice because I have factual data to show when I work with the Francophone population.
She also focused her master’s thesis on the development of French speech sounds in bilingual children across the country, helping to create benchmarks for them in Canada and better represent them in the scientific literature.
âI was looking to see if there were any significant dialect differences between regions. There were limited standards for bilingual children across Canada, and I wanted to help create a database that clinicians could refer to when assessing and intervening with these children.
His thesis noted that children have similar dialects to adults in these regions and that different language exposure can affect children’s phonological development. Research has enabled her to better understand the effect that different languages ââcan have on the sound development of French speech in children.
“I keep this in mind when evaluating them.”
Her qualifications also allow her to meet a demand for Francophone practitioners, she added.
âThere are a limited number of people who can offer this kind of therapy in Alberta, so it’s nice to come back to this community and work with other professionals with similar goals. “
While juggling his studies, Lefebvre also co-chaired a 2020 conference for Alberta speech-language pathology students at the University of Alberta. Held annually to bring together speech-language pathology patients, families and clinicians, the Organization of Alberta Students in Speech (OASIS) event had to pivot online during the pandemic, but turned out to be even more successful despite the virtual change.
âWe were able to connect with people all over Canada and the United States, even as far away as Vietnam. It was a scale the conference had never had before and it brought together people from different walks of life affected by speech therapy in various ways.
It has all been two very busy but rewarding years at the U of A, she added.
âI wanted to make the most of all the opportunities offered by the university, to have the most complete experience possible. Things like the conference provide an opportunity to challenge yourself and work on leadership skills in different contexts. I’ve grown quite a bit and I’m so happy with the way my program went; it couldn’t have been a better setup for me, âsaid Lefebvre.
“The experiences have allowed me to work where I am today.”
Lefebvre was supported in her studies by the Alberta Graduate Excellence Scholarship.
| By Bev Betkowski
Submitted by University of Alberta Folio online magazine. The University of Alberta is an Editorial Content Provider Partner of Troy Media.
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